Bloomsbury has acquired an “original” high concept murder mystery debut by tech journalist Stuart Turton in a hotly contested auction ahead of Frankfurt Book Fair.
Alison Hennessey, editorial director at Bloomsbury, acquired UK & Commonwealth rights to The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and his as yet unnamed second book from Harry Illingworth at the DHH Literary Agency.
The book, described as “Gosford Park meets Groundhog Day, by way of Agatha Christie”, will be published as a “lead title” on Hennessey’s new imprint in early 2018.
A high-concept murder mystery set during a weekend party at a crumbling mansion, the narrator of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle must repeat the same day over and over again until he can identify the killer of the beautiful young heiress, Evelyn Hardcastle, and break the cycle.
Author Sophie Hannah has already said that the book “blew my mind”.
“It is utterly original and unique,” she said. “I couldn't get it out of my head for days afterwards.”
Hennessey added that the title is “one of the most intricate, enjoyable and satisfying submissions I’ve read in a very long time”.
“The only way to describe it is Gosford Park meets Groundhog Day, by way of Agatha Christie, but even that fails to capture its originality – I still can’t quite believe this incredibly ambitious and accomplished book could possibly be a debut,” she said.
Turton, a technology journalist, said: “I’m trying to play this cool, but Bloomsbury’s not the sort of publisher you can be cool about. It makes beautiful books, tells amazing stories, and house some of the best authors on the planet. I’m so chuffed to be going there, and I can’t wait to start working with Alison and the rest of the talented team. We’re going to have lots of fun, drink too much tea, and hopefully turn out something very special indeed.”
Illingworth said he was pleased the title would be an integral one on Hennessey’s new imprint. “This is truly one of the most original high-concept books I’ve ever come across, and it’s been so wonderful to see the magnificent responses,” he said.
In addition to The Seven Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton has written two short stories, one of which was longlisted for the BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition while the other won the Brighton & Hove Libraries short story prize. He lives in West London.